Twitter should only be using phone numbers and email addresses for two-factor authentication. That said, the social media platform admitted that it accidentally used those to serve targeted ads.
Advertisers send ads to users using personal information like phone numbers and email addresses. These are compiled in what’s known as a marketing list. The company said it may have inadvertently matched its users to advertisers’ marketing lists using said information.
We recently found that some email addresses and phone numbers provided for account security may have been used unintentionally for advertising purposes. This is no longer happening and we wanted to give you more clarity around the situation: https://t.co/bBLQHwDHeQ
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) October 8, 2019
The social media platform maintains that it doesn’t share personal data externally, and that it is uncertain as to the number of people affected by this. The company also says it has resolved the issue on 17 September, and is making this announcement in “an effort to be transparent”.
This incident isn’t the first of its kind. Facebook was found to be doing the exact same thing around the same time last year. The most important difference between the two may be that Twitter claims that it’s an accident on its part, rather than a deliberate decision.